Southeast Des Moines Residents Concerned Over String of Shootings

DES MOINES, Iowa - A recent string of shootings on Des Moines' southeast side has some residents concerned for their family's safety.

"Through the week, it's peaceful. Just on the weekend, it seems like people have a little too much to drink, a little too much of something, and go crazy," said Barbara Perry, who lives along King Avenue on Des Moines' southeast side.

Perry and others are scratching their heads over the recent string of shootings that seem to be taking over the area during the month of August.

"I've lived here 31, 32 years, and never seen it this bad," said Jo Gillespie, another resident. "And it's bad all over the whole city of Des Moines, I know, but this is just a little too close for comfort."

The uptick in violent crime has Des Moines police officers ramping up their presence in the area.

"Unfortunately we can't be everywhere all the time, but when we start using the resources that we have available to us, whether it's the technology that's seeing spikes in crime, and then some of our different policing strategies, we've been able to move officers into that area and definitely make an impact on the activity there," said Sgt. Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department.

For residents like Perry, who just moved in in March, that one-year lease she signed is starting to seem like a mistake.

"Caught myself getting away from all that when I moved from 12th Street, but I got over here and got into something a little bit deeper, even closer to me, so I'm ready to go," she said.

Perry says she's concerned with her grand-childrens' safety - they start school on Wednesday. And Riverwoods Elementary School is just around the corner, leaving other families in the area nervous.

"I'm very worried, I'm very concerned for the children - not only the children, but all the people who have lived in this neighborhood for many, many years," Gillespie said. "And have taken good care of their homes and their properties, and it's always been a good area. But now, it's totally out of control. This is just too much."

As police use technology to monitor the hotspots of Des Moines crime, they say it's not the neighborhood itself that's the problem.

"It's not a problem with the neighborhood, it's oftentimes a problem with a person or persons in a neighborhood," Sgt. Parizek said.

Gillespie says she plans to take her concerns to the neighborhood watch group, hoping to put more pressure on landlords in the area to screen their renters with more scrutiny.

"I know there's a lot of slumlords, and if they keep renting to people like that - and nothing personal about anybody, I'm not judging anybody - but if that's what they're going to do, these landlords need to get control," she said.